The study of human heredity got its start in insane asylums

‘Genetics in the Madhouse’ chronicles the early days of the science

London’s Bethlem Hospital illustration

INHERIT THE DATA  King George III’s descent into madness sparked efforts to untangle the inheritance of mental illness by analyzing patient records at insane asylums (London’s Bethlem Hospital is shown in this 1735 illustration). A new book discusses how big data and statistics long dominated the study of human heredity.

William Hogarth/Wikimedia Commons

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